Orthopedic medicine involves the care and treatment of all manner of musculoskeletal conditions and injuries. Sports medicine is a relatively new subspecialty of orthopedics that was first used to describe treatment of the unique needs of elite and professional athletes. Today, professional and elite athletes, amateurs, children and adults who enjoy playing sports or engaging in physical activities of all kinds can benefit from sports medicine. But even though the definition of sport medicine seems pretty clear, there remains confusion about what exactly sports medicine is, who can practice it and who can benefit from treatment. Here is more about what you need to know about sports medicine.
Why sports medicine?
There are a wide range of injuries treated within sports medicine. Overuse injuries or accidents while playing a sport may lead to sprains and strains, fractures, inflammation and tears, and more. Sports medicine doctors are prepared to treat any part of your body that can be injured as a result of athletic activity.
There are three main reasons patients seek the care of a sports medicine physician:
- When they have an injury related to a sporting activity.
- To prevent injury and improve overall condition through physical activity.
- To enhance athletic performance.
The conditions sport medicine doctors treat represent every part of the body that can become injured during physical activities and sports and include rotator cuff tears; golfer’s and tennis elbow; anterior cruciate and posterior ligament (ACL/PCL) tears; meniscus tears; strains and sprains and tendonitis.
Highly Trained Physicians
A sports medicine physician must complete medical school and an internship to become a licensed medical doctor (MD) or doctor of osteopathy (DO). Before pursuing specialized training in sports medicine, the doctor is board certified in internal medicine, pediatrics, emergency medicine, physical medicine or a related field.
Doctors then complete a fellowship in sports medicine where they may concentrate in a specific area of sports and exercise medicine. The American Board of Subspecialties and Medicare both recognize sports medicine as a discipline, and physicians take a Sports Medicine Certification Exam to achieve a Certificate of Added Qualification in the specialty. A sports medicine doctor isn’t just a fan of sports – you can be sure your doctor is highly trained and committed to your health and success, on and off the field!
Sports Injury Prevention and Performance Optimization
The best sports medicine physicians are experienced in treating professional and elite athletes. The understanding of the movement of muscles, tendons, and joints and how they can impact an athletes’ performance allow a sport medicine physician to help patients reach their maximum performance level, whether a beginner or at the elite level. A sports medicine doctor also is the expert who advises athletes when it is safe to return to the game following an injury. Their determinations can make the difference that prevents a career-ending injury when the athlete is not ready to play, or suggests to an athlete it may be time to re-evaluate technique and form.
While sports medicine is sometimes included as a specialty within an orthopedic practice, a relatively small percentage of sports medicine doctors are surgeons. Once a sports injury is diagnosed and its severity determined by your doctor, your treatment plan may include physical medicine and rehabilitation. If the condition persists or gets worse, you may be referred for surgery.
Orthopedic Sports Medicine in Northern New York
North Country Orthopaedic Group is proud to serve Northern New York from its Watertown facility with three fellowship-trained sports medicine. As sports medicine physician who also specializes in diagnostic, minimally invasive surgery, our team provides both surgical and non-surgical care for patients with injuries from athletics. North Country Orthopaedic Group offers a one-stop-shop with both imaging and three highly-trained physical therapists onsite. Call (315) 782-1650 to speak with one of our friendly office staff for an appointment today.